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We love to travel as a family and take family vacations. Of course, who doesn’t like to take a vacation and a break from work?

One thing that we love to do as we plan our family vacation is to involve the children in the planning. Of course, this gets a little bit easier as your twins and your children get older. Nevertheless, if they can talk and communicate with you, they can be involved in some aspect of the planning of your vacation. This way, the vacation becomes something they look forward to and are excited about.

In this article, I’m going to share seven things that we have done to help make vacation planning fun with our children’s involvement.

1. Remember Past Vacations and Experiences

We remind the children of past vacations, past trips and the fun memories that we had with those experiences. It can be as simple as talking about them around the dinner table or sharing the stories of the things that we saw or the things that we did or the things that we experienced. Or those funny things that always happen when you’re on a vacation. Those kinds of stories can help solidify those memories in you’re children’s minds so that they look forward to and are excited about the next opportunity to travel as a family and discover new places together.

Share Stories and Memories

One of our favorite vacation stories is when we went to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico where we went on a tour of the caverns. So we’re at the very bottom of this cavern, 45 minutes into an hour and a half tour, and one of our kids has to go to the bathroom and there is no bathroom. And so that same child ending up having wet pants all the way out of the caverns. We think this is hilarious in retrospect but unfortunately, he was a little bit uncomfortable for that hike out of the caverns.

Share stories, funny things that happened on your trips, videos, and pictures. One thing that we love to do is make little photo books. We take the pictures from trips and turn those into a little coffee table book that the kids can just pick up and flip through. They love looking through these books and it helps them be excited about the things that they saw before.

The premise of reminding the kids of the things that they’ve done in the past is they remember discovering those new places and they remember what they did there. The children often remember things that my wife or I we have forgotten, like little nuances or details of experiences that they held onto as precious memories. They share those with the family and it reminds all of us of the fun experience that we had. Building on the base of past fun family experiences makes it a lot easier to involve your children in planning the next vacation.

2. Make a Map

Make a map of where you’ll be going. We have a map of the United States on our fridge in the kitchen. Over the years, we’ve colored in each of the states that we’ve been visiting one by one along with the year that we first visited that state as an entire family.

If you’re taking a trip anywhere in the country, or maybe it’s international trip, print out a map. Put your map on the fridge or in a prominent location where your children can see that map and they can see how you’re going to get there.

The map could show your travel path or the destination that you’re going to be visiting. This map will enable the children to visualize the places that they’re going to see and how far away that is from your home and how long it’s going to take to get there.

Your younger children may not fully understand maps yet. But they may just be fascinated by the style of the map or the colors of the map. Or can ask them, “Where are we? And where are we going?” Even a small toddler should be able to identify those on the map with some guidance.

3. Align Destinations with Kids’ Interests

Identify things that your children are interested in and then find a destination for that interest.

A couple years we took a family road trip vacation from Texas to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. As we drove through Arkansas, we went to visit the Crater of Diamonds State Park which is a place where you can dig for diamonds and gems in a big field.

At the time our oldest son was really interested in geology and rock collecting and everything related to that aspect of science. So when we discovered this opportunity in Arkansas we said, “Okay we’re going to go dig for diamonds in the Diamond State Park.”

The kids had a blast. It was like a giant sandbox (but with soil) that’s like the size of a couple football fields. The kids got to take their shovels out there and make a huge mess digging and looking for diamonds and gems. We didn’t find any diamonds but we did find several other gemstones and interesting rocks which were fascinating to the children.

We had this great experience all because we had included a destination around an interest that our son had. This gave him something to look forward to before the trip. My kids still talk about that experience today. Anytime we’re planning a trip anywhere near Arkansas, they want to go back to the Crater of Diamonds State Park to dig for diamonds.

You know your children best. Even your twins may have common interests. Perhaps both your twins are interested in rock collecting but odds are maybe one twin is interested in one thing and the other twin is interested in something else. Find destinations that each of your twins and each of your children individually can look forward to visiting.

4. Have Children Do the Research

Involve your children in the research of where you’ll be going, what you’ll be doing, and have them share what they find.

One thing we’ve been doing this year is that we made a huge list of all the things we’re going to go see or the places we’re going to visit and then we had the children pick items to prepare a little presentation on that destination.

Our kids are all in elementary school or middle school and so they’ve been getting used to doing this at school where they do research and reports. However, even if your children are younger you can sit with them and help them research a destination and find things to share like videos, pictures, and information about where you’ll be going.

This year, our kids have put together little Google Slides presentations with images or videos. We’ll project them up on the big TV and the whole family can watch while they can share what they learned about this destination. why it’s important, why they’re excited to go there, and things that we’re going to see.

Having the children share what they’ve learned helps build excitement around our destination. Plus they’re vested in that location now. They are looking forward to it and they know more about it than simply what mom and dad told them. They can now say, “Oh yeah, we’re going to go visit that city and these are the three things that we should do there because they look pretty cool.”

5. Talk About Your Trip All the Time

Talk about the trip, the vacation, and the adventure all the time.

Your children are always going to distract you as you talk about things. We have this happen to us all the time. You’re talking about one thing and all of sudden the kids take that and go off on a completely different tangent. And you never make it back to the original thing that you’re talking about.

If you want to talk about your vacation where you’re going to go visit these five different cool places, you’re not going to be able to sit down and talk about those five things at once. Your kids are going to distract you or something’s going to happen and you’re not going to finish that conversation.

So talk about vacation all the time. For example, “Hey, it’s just a month away from today we’re going to leave on our vacation.” Or, “Hey remember we’re going to go to this city? Do you remember your aunt lives in that city? Do you remember the last time you were there? What are we going to do when we get there?” This gives you an opportunity to have discussions about your upcoming family vacation and planning.

6. Involve the Children in Travel Decisions

Involve your children in the choices that you’re making with travel plans. When you plan a trip there’s going to be a lot of decisions that you have to make. For example, where are you going to stay? Are you going to stay in a hotel? Are you going to stay in an Airbnb? Do you need a rental car? Are you going to drive, do a road trip? Are you flying? When should you fly? Which airline should you fly with? What time should you fly? What activities are you going to do in the city? And how are you going to budget and pay for all of these different things?

There are a lot of choices that you make or are considering as you go along in making vacation plans. You may even have a short list of, for example, two different hotels. Show those to your children. Say, “Hey, I’m looking at these two different hotels, want to look at them with me? Which of these two looks better to you?” It’s amazing whenever I involve the kids in that decision. They have a fresh perspective. They’re like, “Ooo, I really like that one since it has a better swimming pool.” Or, “That one has a cooler looking room.” Or, “That one has a better view of the beach (or the cityscape or whatever that may be).”

It will give you some additional perspective because you may be viewing the decision simply through one lens of how much does this cost? Or is it available? And your kids are looking at it through more of an experiential view of what is it going to be like when I get there? How fun is it going to be? Am I going to like it? And of course, you want your kids to have fun and enjoy once you get there.

Ultimately, you have to make the decision on what’s best for you and your family. However, you can show them those choices and you’ll start to see that some of your kids really care about those different choices and the details of those choices. And other kids are like, “Yeah whatever. I don’t care.” One or two of your kids will be really fascinated by the planning process of a vacation and they’ll want to be more and more involved.

7. Have Fun!

Make sure that you have fun with this whole process. Often vacation planning or the vacation travel itself can be extremely stressful because you’re trying to cram in all this stuff in a limited amount of time. Nevertheless, you want there to be an aura of fun and excitement around your vacation and your planning otherwise what’s the point? Your kids are going to see right through that and not want to participate if they just view it as a stressful experience.

When you think about your vacation there are three phases of the vacation: before, during, and after the vacation.

First is the anticipation of the event. You anticipate this vacation for significantly longer than you’re actually going to be on the vacation. And so you want something that’s fun to look forward to, think about, and plan. Don’t underplay that anticipation and excitement as part of the vacation.

When you’re on the vacation that is fun and you’re building memories and having fun experiences together. However, that’s a relatively short period of time that’s sandwiched between the anticipation before and the memory of it afterward.

After you get home, relive those experiences through the stories and the video and the pictures that you’ve taken. Relive those memories and savor the experiences that you had together as a family. That’ll springboard you the next time that you’re able to travel somewhere as a family.

What are some things that you have done to help your kids get involved in vacation planning for your family vacation? Go ahead and share those in the comments below.

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Episode 173 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes

In this episode, I chat with Dara Lovitz mother of twin girls and author of “Twinsight: A Guide to Raising Emotionally Healthy Twins“.

On the show, we dive into Dara’s twin journey and her research into raising emotionally healthy twins, including:

  • Challenges of caring for two infants by yourself
  • Hardest parts of raising toddler twins
  • Why the first few years with twins aren’t all bad
  • When one of the twins tends to be a caregiver for the other twin
  • Developing relationships with people other than your twin sibling
  • Why one-on-one time for twins is so important
  • How to actually give twins alone time with a parent
  • Giving each twin time alone with both parents
  • What you can do to help non-twin siblings feel valued and special
  • Avoiding the comparison trap with twins
  • Keeping twins together or separate in school

See Dara’s book, “Twinsight: A Guide to Raising Emotionally Healthy Twins“.

Read Dara’s Blog

See Joe’s new Twin Stroller Advisor

Transcript

Speaker 1:                              Welcome to the Dad’s Guide to Twins podcast. The podcast that’ll help you survive and thrive as a father of twins. Now, here’s your host, the author of the book, The Dad’s Guide to Twins, Joe Rawlinson.

Joe:                                             Hi there and welcome to the 173rd episode of The Dad’s Guide to Twins podcast, this is Joe Rawlinson. As always, you can find me on the web at TwinDadPodcast.com where you’ll find the complete show notes and transcript for this episode, and all previous podcast episodes.

Joe:                                             Today on the show, we’ll be speaking with Dara Lovitz, author of Twinsight: A Guide to Raising Emotionally Healthy Twins. She shares some very practical tips about how to ensure the emotional health and wellbeing of your twins, as they grow from itty bitty babies through school age, to teenagers, adults, and more.

Joe:                                             Today’s show is brought to you by a new tool that I have on my website, DadsGuideToTwins.com/strollers. If you’re in the market for a new twin stroller, this is the tool that will help you decide, what is the best stroller for you and your family’s needs. Head on over to DadsGuideToTwins.com/strollers.

Joe:                                             And now, let’s jump right into the interview with Dara Lovitz.

Joe:                                             How old are your girls, now?

Dara:                                         They are five, now, turning six this fall.

Joe:                                             What’s the most exciting thing about this age, right now, with them?

Dara:                                         They have really interesting thoughts and I’m always surprised by … Every day, when they express themselves I’m just surprised to hear what’s in their heads.

Dara:                                         For instance, one recognized that the signs for the bathrooms, there was a sign for the bathroom and there’s a woman’s body, so she knew it was the women’s room. And then, there was a sign for the men’s room with the men’s body. Under the woman’s … the little square where the woman’s picture was … there’s a picture of a changing table, like a baby being changed, and she said, “Why is there a changing table picture on the girl’s bathroom and not on the boy’s bathroom?” And I said, “That’s a great point. That’s like, “How’s a daddy going to change a baby if there’s no changing table in there?” So, we discussed gender inequality and I thought, “I can’t believe I’m discussing this, I’m discussing gender equity issues with a child, with my child.” It was really exciting. Now, I feel like we’re more intellectual equals, which says a lot about my intellectual level, if a five year old is my equal, but I’m starting to feel like we’re evening out more, and I like that.

Joe:                                             That is a funny age, where they’re very curious, they ask lots of questions, and their perspective on the world is so different from ours that it helps us see things in a new light.

Dara:                                         Yes, definitely.

Joe:                                             So, as you look back, over the last five years with your girls, what were some of the big challenges that you had? Or surprises that you experienced?

Dara:                                         The potty training days were tough. When you have two kids and you have a grocery cart full of groceries and there’s a public restroom where the drier is so loud, they don’t want to go in it, but they have to go to the potty. You know, I have a lot of moments like that. Honestly, a lot of them have to do with a supermarket and two screaming kids, and everybody’s rushing you through to the front of the line, which is not a bad thing, by the way, but they just want to get you out of the store because you have two screaming kids. So, there were times, I feel like, in the twos and the threes that were really tough, when you really want to go out in public, you think, “Finally, I can go out in public because they actually can walk.” But then, they’re still not mature enough to hold themselves together. So, there would be issues where you find yourself running out of public places a lot with one or two screaming children.

Dara:                                         But, even more challenging was before that, before they could walk and you have to take two kids out … it’s one adult and you got to take two babies out of their car seats and into the house or preschool. And they can’t walk, so you have to put one in a Bjorn and then you hold the other. I didn’t have a double carrier, I knew that exists, but I just didn’t see on one the market that made sense to me. It’s just a struggle to carry two babies at once, I felt.

Dara:                                         So, those days are behind us. My kids are potty trained and they walk on their own. And, they can usually keep it together in public, for the most part. So, I feel like we’ve been through a wave of challenging times and we all survived and we’re all okay.

Joe:                                             Yeah, I think there’s thing for us to remember, as parents of twins, is the first several years are really, really hard, but you do get through it. And then, you get to the stage, like where you’re at, where you can have intellectual conversations with your children and do different things together without having to worry about a lot of those physical or logistical concerns from their early years.

Dara:                                         Yeah. And it wasn’t all bad and I feel bad for new twin parents who learn. They’re always told the same thing, and I was told this, too, when I was pregnant with twins, “The first two or three years are tough,” or, it depends who’s talking, sometimes it’s, “The first three months are tough,” “The first year is tough.” You’re always being prepped for the worst, and there are definitely wonderful moments in those first couple of years. And, it’s funny, because you don’t realize it until you look back at your videos of your babies, or of when they’re just learning to walk for the first time, or when they’re shaking their little tushy to music for the first time, and those are wonderful moments, and they happen in the middle of the challenging times. I think the way we’re trained or programmed is we remember the bad times, the horrible times, but there are many, many, many moments of wonder and happiness in those tough times. And I hope that parents who are listening, who are pregnant or have babies, know that there are a lot of really great times.

Joe:                                             You just recently came out with a new book, Twinsight: A Guide to Raising Emotionally Healthy Twins. One of the things I enjoyed about your book was that you researched, not just what professionals or academics are saying, but also you talked to twins, themselves, and their families, and their siblings, to get a real picture for the experience of a twin, and how we can improve our parenting of them. As you were going through some of the research, what surprised you the most? Maybe some things you discovered that you had not seen in your own experience with your twin girls?

Dara:                                         It’s surprises me that I don’t see it in my twin girls. And I’ll tell you, it is, a lot of the grown up twins felt very protective of their sibling and wanted to, and felt like the caretaker of them. And I just remember this past spring, there was a spring break, their school was closed, and there was a day camp at this environmental education center, and I wanted to drop them off so I could go to work, and one of my daughters was just crying inconsolably, she didn’t want to be dropped off there. And I said,, “You know, your sister’s here and if you feel sad, just look at your sister.” And I said to her sister, “You’ll hug her, right? If she needs a hug?” And then, she shook her head no. And I just felt like, “Wait a second. I have two kids and they’re supposed to comfort each other so I can go to work. And there are all these parents of singletons who are dropping their kids off and walking out.” And I just felt like none of that made sense to me.

Dara:                                         But, interviewing the adult twins that I spoke with, it seems like that it is kind of natural for you to want to take care of your twin sibling. And I don’t know why my children are defective in that way, and it was very inconvenient for me, but it did surprise me … the more it did surprise me that my kids don’t do that, then I heard that the adult twins do it.

Dara:                                         But, something else that I thought was interesting, that I never really thought of, when talking to these grown up twins in my interviews, is when it comes time to have a significant other relationship, when they’re in college or even in high school, and they’re starting to have a … they want to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, when you have a twin and you share everything with your twin and your twin is your best friend, and you spend all your time together, it’s really hard to open up and be that close and intimate to another person. And there was a lot of struggles, there were a lot of struggles for grown up twins, especially in their twenties and thirties, who want to have another relationship, they want to get married and start their family’s. They have to find a partner who’s understanding of that, who understands that there’s going to be a struggle for number one, for number one in a twin’s life.

Dara:                                         And the big question is, I always asked the twin, “If you lost your job, who would you call first? Your husband or your twin?” Or, “If your best friend died, who would you call first? Your husband or your twin?” And that’s a struggle for a lot of twins to answer. The partner, the husband or the wife, would want their spouse to call them first. They want to be the number one, but a lot of times, the twin sibling is the number one in their lives. So, developing significant other relationships, developing significant relationships with partners, in their twenties and thirties, is more complicated for twins who have a very close relationship with their co-twin.

Joe:                                             Yeah, that’s understandable. I mean, they’ve been together for, you know, twenty years and to be married or in a relationship for that long, takes another twenty years beyond that, right? What are some things that, maybe, parents did when their twins were younger, to help prepare them for that transition to other relationships?

Dara:                                         I think it’s important to do one on one time with kids and have them develop important relationships with parents, with other siblings in the family, who are not their twins. I think it’s important to let them be friends with other kids, and I think separating in school helps with that. Have them have different social circles, so they understand what it’s like to have friends who are not their twins.

Dara:                                         I interviewed one twin … and this is a really, really sad, awful, story … her twin sister, whom was her best friend … and I’ll just develop the relationship a little bit … she would call her twin sister every night. Now, at this point, they were in their twenties, but they still talked every night, even when they were in college, they spoke every night on the phone and they were the last person they spoke to before going to sleep, and they would say goodnight. They would talk about their days and then say goodnight. Every single night of their lives, they spoke to each other, even when they weren’t living together. And then, when she was 26, her twin sister was killed in a car accident.

Dara:                                         And she said the hardest … I mean, obviously, that was so hard and that was tragic, it was her best friend, it was a person she spoke to every night, but … she said she had a really hard time making friends after that because she didn’t need to make friends, she kind of like, she had friends, you know, they had circles of friends, but she had trouble making a best friend or making a close circle of friends because she didn’t know, like, now, she had to learn how to open up to other people.And it took her a while to learn how to be a friend to other people. She knew how to be her sister’s, her twin sister’s, best friend. She didn’t know how to be anyone else’s close friend.

Dara:                                         And it’s very unique, how you open up to somebody, and how that person opens up to you, and the bond that you have, to develop that with someone else so late in life, now it’s almost into her third decade of living, she had to learn skills that kids learn much earlier in life. So, I would encourage twins … I would encourage parents of twins to help them develop friendships outside of the twinship to help them develop close relationships with the other siblings in the family. One on one time with parents helps, just so that the twin realizes there are other ways to have relationships, close relationships, and the one relationship that they have with their twin is one special relationship, among many others. So, I think that’s something parents can do to help their twins prepare for having a partner or a spouse later in life.

Dara:                                         There’s something my husband and I do a lot is we tag team and we, on the weekends, for instance, we always try to do at least one session of one on one time. So, that means I’m taking one kid to the supermarket and he’s taking the other kid to the playground. And, by the way, I know when I say that to other people, they think, “Oh, that stinks for the twin who has to go to the supermarket. I’d much rather be the kid going to the playground.” But, I’ll tell you that my kids, I think they’re so starving for that one on one time, they’ll do anything. They will go to the doctor, if they have to, with me because they just want to be alone with a parent and not have their twin sister around. So, any of that is very special.

Dara:                                         And, again, weekends are easier because on the weekdays, we’re both working, and then we tag team, in a sense that, my husband gets them ready for school and takes them to school. And then, I pick them up from school and I’m with them all evening, getting them dinner. And sometimes he comes home and doesn’t even see them, he comes home from work too late. So, we can’t do one on one time on the weekdays, generally. So, we have to make sure we make time for it on the weekends.

Dara:                                         And something that’s even more special, than one on one time, is two on one time. This is much harder to do. Usually you need a family member whom the kids love, but you would essentially drop one kid off at a grandparent’s house, for instance, and then both parents take the other sibling out. And that is so..

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Every twin parent deserves a great night’s sleep.

Yes, even you!

Since you are tired enough due to getting up multiple times a night to feed the twins or walk a child back to bed, you definitely don’t need anything else preventing you from a getting the rest you deserve.

You need a comfortable bed that helps you fall right to sleep and makes sure you wake rested in the morning.

DreamCloud sent my wife and I a mattress to try in our home. I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

After sleeping on the bed for a week, my wife and I have already noticed a difference in our sleep quality compared to our old mattress.

See the DreamCloud Mattress here.

After the first night’s sleep, my wife proclaimed that she didn’t wake up sore like with our old mattress. Upon hearing that, I realized that I too wasn’t sore. Hooray!

What a gift to be able to wake up free from pain and be able to get going with the day quickly! Especially when that usually involves scrambling to get all the kids ready for school.

I’ve partnered with DreamCloud to help you get a better night’s sleep too. If you order a DreamCloud mattress today, you’ll get $200 off your new mattress. Plus, they will deliver it to your door for free!

Get $200 Off DreamCloud Luxury Mattress!

DreamCloud has an optional “White Glove” service that will actually set up the bed in your room so you don’t have to do any heavy lifting.

We opted to set up the DreamCloud mattress ourselves.

DreamCloud Mattress Unboxing

FedEx dropped off this huge (and heavy) giant roll that looked like a jumbo sushi roll inside a big blue stuff sack (like those you take camping).

I unwrapped the packaging and placed the mattress (still rolled up) on the bed.

Once I broke open the vacuum seal, the package started to unroll magically and gradually inflated to its final mattress shape.

It was fun to watch the entire process happen in just a couple of minutes.

Here’s a quick unboxing video of the mattress and the initial installation:

DreamCloud Mattress Unboxing and First Impression - YouTube

DreamCloud Mattress First Impressions

My first impression of the bed was that it felt like those comfortable beds I’ve experienced at hotels while traveling. I initially felt more comfortable side sleeping but over the last few nights, sleeping on my back or side has been great.

The DreamCloud mattress has a soft and smooth surface with a hand-tufted, Cashmere blend cover that makes it easy to relax into sleep.

Meanwhile, the supportive layers of premium memory foam support me while sleeping so I wake up in the morning without being sore. Obviously, our old spring mattress wasn’t the best for supporting us during sleep!

If you’re ready for a new mattress, check out DreamCloud. Each mattress comes with a forever (yes, forever) warranty. Plus you can try it for a full year with their 365 Night Sleep Trial and if you aren’t satisfied, they will take it back. But if our first week is any indication, you’ll be happy and sleep better on a DreamCloud.

Learn More About DreamCloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress

DreamCloud sponsored this post by sending my family a mattress, however, I am sharing my own thoughts. All opinions are my own. Links above are referral links. If you purchase, I’ll get a small bonus. Thanks for supporting Dad’s Guide to Twins!

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Episode 172 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes

In this episode, I answer five of your twin parenting questions, including:

Subscribe to the Podcast

To subscribe to the podcast, please use the links below:

Share Your Thoughts

Please let me know what you think of this episode of the podcast, you can contact me with any questions or comments or leave a comment on the blog.

If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help other parents of twins find the show!

Download the Podcast

Download the podcast in .mp3 format (right click and “save as…”)

You can find Joe on Twitter and Facebook.

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Book Review

Check out my review of the children’s book “Twinderella: A Fractioned Fairy Tale” by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Deborah Marcero:

Twinderella: A Fractioned Fairy Tale - Book Review (from a father of twins) - YouTube

Get your “Twinderella” book here (referral link supports Dad’s Guide to Twins)

And enter to win your own copy to share with your twins:

Giveaway

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When you’re expecting twins, one of the concerns you have is how will you fit your twin family in your current car. You will think that everything you own is too small to handle your suddenly bigger family. You may be right.

What is the best car for twins?

It depends. Be careful of those that give you a specific car-buying recommendation without knowing your family situation.

The best vehicle for twins depends on several factors. Let’s look at each:

Do you need a new car when having twins?

Do you need to buy a new car? Will we all fit?

Here is the simple formula:

Current Number of Kids + Twins + Parents + Future Kid Plans = How many seats you need in your car

If the number of seats you need in your car is greater than what you currently have in your vehicle, it is time to start shopping.

Before we had any kids, I swore that we’d never own a minivan. I told myself and wife that we’d just get a big SUV to haul around the expanding family.

That plan worked until we had two kids. At that point, we knew we wanted the room to grow and so bought a minivan. Don’t feel bad if you have to take back a similar “no minivan” promise. They aren’t so bad after all.

So when we found out we were having twins, we already had room in our van and didn’t need to buy a new car. However, the girls’ arrival immediately maxed out our seating space.

Remember the formula above. If twins are your first kids and you have a back seat in your car, you may be fine waiting to buy a bigger vehicle.

If, on the other hand, you already have a child and just a little Honda Civic, it is probably time to upgrade.

The best vehicle for twins and a toddler may still be the car you already have. However, if you can’t fit all 3 car seats across the back seat, you might need to upgrade to an SUV or minivan.

When looking at a new vehicle make sure you keep in mind your family size today and what it will be in the next few years. Do you need room for frequent passengers? Make sure there is a seat for everyone.

Keep in mind that car seats are often bigger than a normal person is wide. So just because you have three seat belts in the backseat doesn’t mean you can fit three car seats back there. Take your car seats to the car dealership when you test drive to make sure they will fit.

Be Safe

I shouldn’t have to say it, but please make sure that your future vehicle is a safe one. Review crash test ratings, safety features, and car seat latch systems to make sure you feel comfortable that your twins and family will be safe on the road.

Most late model vehicles tout their safety features so you’ll only need to really dig deep if you buy a used car.

Don’t Break the Bank

You’ll have a lot of added expenses with twins. Make sure your new car payment is reasonable and fits within your budget.

Don’t use your old budget when making this decision. Use the new “life with twins” budget to make sure everything fits.

If you’re tight on cash, consider purchasing a used vehicle. As you know, cars lose a big chunk of value in the first year. So you can buy a late model used SUV or minivan for significantly less than the newest model. In fact, this is exactly what we did in our family.

SUV or Minivan?

When your little car won’t hold the twins and the entire family, it is time to go BIG.

Often the choice between getting an SUV and a Minivan comes down to personal preference.

If you don’t already have a preference, look at cargo capacity, the number of seats, fuel efficiency, and price to help decide between these two classes of vehicles.

Consider getting a vehicle with captains chairs in the middle row so you can easily get to the back seat to help kids get in and out of the vehicle.

Remember that you’ll need to store your twin stroller in the back so double check cargo space isn’t sacrificed for the third row of seats.

The sliding door on a minivan makes getting in and out of the back super easy, especially when you don’t have a lot of room around the vehicle (like your garage).

I promised myself that I’d never own a minivan. And yet, here we are 4 kids later with a minivan in the garage.

Things have worked out well for our family having a minivan. I even take out all the seats and use it as a “truck” for trips to the home improvement store.

Best SUV for Twins

Using the tips above, you should be able to find the best SUV for twins and your family.

Here are some popular SUVs with twin parents:

  • Honda Pilot
  • GMC Acadia / Chevrolet Traverse
  • GMC Yukon
  • Nissan Armada
Best Minivan for Twins

Going the minivan route? Awesome. Welcome to the club.

Here are some popular minivans that your fellow twin parents drive:

  • Honda Odyssey
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Chrysler Town and Country
  • Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Nissan Quest
Twin Specific Cars

The secret to finding the best vehicle for twins is that there aren’t vehicles made specifically for twins.

Auto manufacturers make cars for big families. With twins (and especially when added to other kids in the family), you now have a big family.

Congratulations. Now, go shop for a car for a big family.

The critical, must-have item in any vehicle you buy when expecting twins is that there is a seat for each family member, including your twins.

Good luck with your car shopping. Let us know in the comments below what you drive.

I talk more about other key preparations for your twins in Chapter 4 of my book, the Dad’s Guide to Twins: How to Survive the Twin Pregnancy and Prepare for Your Twins.

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Episode 171 of the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast Show Notes

In this episode, we continue our Father of Twins Interview Series with Geoff Louvar, father of twin girls.

On the show, we dive into Geoff’s twin journey, including:

  • Finding a surrogate to carry your baby
  • When the surrogate moves far from where you are living
  • Financial challenges of repeated IVF rounds
  • Dad’s fears about expecting twins
  • Initial tour of the NICU and their reactions
  • The shock of super small preemie babies
  • Big differences between a full term singleton and premature twin babies
  • Balancing work, family, and NICU time
  • The ups and downs of a 95 Day NICU stay
  • Difficult reality of caring for premature babies at home
  • Deciding to be a stay-at-home dad
  • Battling post partum depression as a dad
  • The harsh reality of colicky babies
  • Typical daily schedule for two year old twins

Connect with Geoff:
https://www.facebook.com/geoff.louvar
https://twitter.com/GeoffLouvar
https://www.instagram.com/geofflouvar/

Geoff’s wife’s book mentioned on the show: “Incredible You“.

Transcript

Joe: Hi, everybody. Welcome to the 171st episode of The Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast. This is Joe Rawlinson. As always, you can find me on the web at twindadpodcast.com, where you’ll find the complete show notes and transcript for this episode and all previous podcast episodes.

Joe: Today, we are continuing our father of twins interview series with fellow father of twins Geoff Louvar, who shares his amazing twin journey that involved surrogacy, failed in vitro rounds, and an extremely early delivery of twins.

Joe: But before we jump into that story, I want to let you know that today’s show is brought to you by twintshirtcompany.com, where you’ll find dozens of t-shirts for parents of twins just like you. Head on over to twintshirtcompany.com.

Joe: So, Geoff, tell us a little bit about your family situation before you started your twin journey.

Geoff: Me and my wife got married in 2009. She has three kids from a previous marriage. She had benign tumors and had a partial hysterectomy. We knew we wanted to have a family. We just didn’t know if it was possible, so we looked into surrogacy. We didn’t have a family member to volunteer, so we to find someone. We actually put an ad on Craigslist, and I think it was titled “looking for womb to rent.” We got a couple responses and finally we met this couple, Melissa Little and Jeremy Little. It was just perfect. Her husband was a preacher and she just felt like she was called to do this. She’s a really giving person.

Geoff: So, we started the IVF treatment. We had Griffin in 2011. I think we were pretty naïve to the whole IVF experience because it was so successful and it went so smooth. We waited a few years and started to try again. We had five failed IVF treatments, which was kind of a rollercoaster because all the shots involved that Melissa and my wife had to take and the waiting period of two weeks to see if the transfer actually took, it was pretty depressing until we found out we were pregnant with the twins.

Joe: What duration of time did that take between your first one and when you finally were successful?

Geoff: Four years. Yeah, and during this period, Melissa actually moved from Wichita to Oklahoma, so that was kind of difficult because she was having to travel back and forth for all the appointments, so it was a pretty rough four-year journey.

Joe: Had she been a surrogate before?

Geoff: No, she had not.

Joe: Okay, so the first pregnancy went very well, it sounds like.

Geoff: Yeah. We didn’t have any problems. I guess we thought it’d be easy going from that point. The financial difficulty of each cycle, it’s a lot of money. I guess our spirits just got down each time, but I think I was pretty determined, like, “Okay, this is going to work.” Our son Griffin kept on saying, “I want to be a big brother.” When we found out we were pregnant, he was like, “We’re having twins,” so we thought that was kind of clairvoyant, I guess, that he knew we were having twins.

Joe: So, you were determined to see this through, until you actually had another child, at least one more. How did you keep your surrogate engaged through this four-year journey?

Geoff: We’re very close with her. Her and my wife talk every day. I think she really wanted Griffin to be a big brother too. I think we just had faith that it would work eventually. I think the last time we did it, though, we were like, “Okay, this is the last time we’re doing this.” We didn’t tell anybody. The previous attempts, we told everybody and everybody was like, you know, “We’re praying for you.” The last time, we were just like, “We’re just not going to tell anybody. We’re not going to put everybody through this,” because the whole wait, it’s pretty brutal. It takes a lot out of you, and especially when it’s not successful.

Joe: How were you able to handle the finances of this? Did you have insurance or did you just have to pay out-of-pocket?

Geoff: It was all out-of-pocket, so I had to take a second mortgage for one attempt. I had to get a couple credit cards. I had to get loans on our cars, which I think that added to the whole stress of it.

Joe: Yeah, it sounds like you were all in there. So, at the fifth round and it finally took, when did you get the first hint that it was going to be different than the previous ones that had failed?

Geoff: Melissa, she went to get tested for her numbers and it was a positive pregnancy. Then she went back, I believe it’s like every two days, to check her numbers. They’re supposed to double, but they started to quadruple. They just got higher and higher. At one point, we thought we might have four or six babies. We were all kind of freaking out until the ultrasound, realizing there’s just two in there. That was a relief.

Geoff: Due to all the failed attempts, we were pretty excited to have twins, just because we had spent so much money and we were like, “Okay, now we get two babies.” We were pretty excited. We really didn’t know the road that was ahead of us.

Joe: How was the twin pregnancy going before you started to get surprises?

Geoff: Everything was going great. We had just found out the gender. We found out we were having two girls, which for some reason we thought we were having a boy and a girl, because that’s what Griffin thought we were going to have. We had our names picked out for either two boys or a boy and a girl. We had no idea what names for two girls. Griffin was pretty sad because he wanted a little brother. I went through the whole shock of I’m going to have to raise two little girls. That’s two weddings to pay for. That’s two broken hearts I’m going to have to mend. I think just raising boys is different than girls, so I was pretty scared. Also, having twins too, I was kind of scared of if I would love them equally or if I would love more than the other. That was kind of a thing that I was debating in my head, like how is this going to work out?

Geoff: But the pregnancy was going great. We actually had an appointment here in Wichita. Melissa had driven up. The doctor’s like, “Everything’s going great.” We went through the weekend, and then we got a call from her husband, Jeremy. Baby A had popped her sack. They rushed her from Tulsa to Wichita and put her on bedrest. They said, “This is going to be an early pregnancy. We don’t see her going full-term. We’ll try to keep the babies in as long as we can.”

Geoff: During that time, they gave us a tour of the NICU, which I had no idea what a NICU was. I mean, I knew about premature babies. I just had no idea what everything looked like. So, me and my wife took the tour. We were pretty shocked and really scared, just to see all these little babies that … They’re just so small. I can’t describe how small they are and hooked up to tubes and their little … their plastic incubators. It’s was a lot to take in.

Geoff: What was difficult too was, I guess, the guilt of Melissa being on bedrest and away from her family back in Oklahoma. That was really tough to handle because we knew that she was most likely going to miss Thanksgiving and Christmas while she was in the hospital. I just felt really awful that Jeremy was having to take care of his kids is Oklahoma by himself, and the kids, they don’t have their mom. It was really difficult.

Geoff: She was on bedrest for about two weeks before she was bleeding really bad, then the doctor’s like, “We have to take them.” They were born at 26 weeks and four days.

Joe: So, tell us about that experience, when you found out that today was the day that you were going to have the twins.

Geoff: Everything went on autopilot. It was just in survival mode because you read the odds of making it between 26 weeks, 27 weeks, all the way to 32 weeks, their chances of survival. We were just praying and, “Okay, let’s just get to the next day.”

Joe: Were you able to be in for the delivery of the girls?

Geoff: I was not. My wife was because only one person could be in there, so my wife was with Melissa. I got to see them take the babies from the hallway to the NICU, which I just couldn’t believe how small they were.

Joe: How small were they compared to maybe your hand?

Geoff: They were born at about two pounds. I could put my wedding ring through their arms. They were just so small. I could hold them in my hand. It’s different because Griffin was a full pregnancy. You get to hold him right away. He has meat to his bones. He’s chunky. These girls were just so skinny. You could see their ribs and their skin is so different, like it’s not really fully developed. It’s kind of sticky and so delicate. You’re not allowed to touch them for a while. I think it was maybe two weeks before we could hold them and do skin-to-skin.

Geoff: Driving back and forth between home life and the NICU. The older kids, we felt like we were neglecting them because we were spending so much time at the hospital. I think it was just a lot of guilt of we tried so hard to have these babies and now everybody else is getting ignored.

Joe: How were you able to manage Griffin and home life and maintain that schedule during that time in the NICU?

Geoff: My wife would go to … She actually took her maternity leave from the bank to be with the girls while they were in the NICU. My work was pretty accommodating. They knew the whole situation, so I would just go in for a few hours in the morning at work, and then I would drive up to the NICU. Usually me and my wife would have a few minutes to have lunch, and then she would come back home and take care of the older kids while I was with the girls. Around dinner time, we would switch back where I would come home and then my wife would go back up to the hospital. Then we would get the kids to bed, then we would switch again and then I would spend until the later part of the night with the twins in the NICU, then we would get a few hours of sleep. This cycle just went over and over again.

Geoff: Me and my wife didn’t really spend a whole lot of time together, just through passing, basically. Just the stress of it, we were just tired, but you’re on autopilot, so you’re kind of outside of your body, just doing whatever you can just to get through the next day.

Joe: What were some of the milestones that your girls hit in the NICU that gave you the light at the end of the tunnel?

Geoff: Jordan, the older twin, she was on oxygen up until about five days until she came home. I guess the big milestone is when London, the younger one, opened her eyes after … I want to say three weeks, because her eyes were still closed. We had a couple scares. London was bleeding in her intestines, and that was pretty scary.

Joe: What did the doctors have to do for that?

Geoff: They really didn’t know what the cause was for it. She just kind of fixed herself. I really think prayer helped. They don’t know why she got better, but she did. Jordan, they thought that she was going to have to have surgery because she had hernia, but that went away too. There was a couple times that they had to have IVs inserted in their head, which is pretty scary just because of dehydration and their other veins weren’t big enough to put the IV in.

Geoff: Also, trying to teach the babies how to drink milk was a really difficult and frustrating experience because they just had to drink two ounces of milk and it took like a month-and-a-half for them to figure it out. That’s what we were waiting on to come home. We were at the NICU for like 95 days.

Joe: How were you involved in that feeding process?

Geoff: The nurses would teach us how to do it. They would encourage us to try to do it ourselves, so we would just watch the first couple of days and then we would try to do it. NICU babies are on such a schedule. In the hospital, they were on two-hour feedings. It would take about an hour for them to eat and they would fall asleep, and then you would start on the next baby. It was just like that around the clock.

Joe: So, after the 95 days, were they able to come home together?

Geoff: One came home a day before the other, which was kind of funny because that’s the goal and that’s the moment you’re looking forward to, is finally bringing the home. So, we brought London home. The next day, we took her back up to the NICU to spend time with Jordan, and then that day, they were like, “We’re going to release Jordan too,” so we got to bring them both home together the next day.

Geoff: That’s really when the next journey started because we didn’t know how difficult it was bringing them both home. That was the goal, like finally we’re all going to be home as a family. There’s no driving back and forth. We can spend time with the older kids. I don’t think anybody can prepare you for when you bring them home because you’re so used to depending on the nurses and the doctors and the monitors. You actually get the chance to go home and sleep, where when you’re home, it’s all on your own.

Geoff: Since they were preemies, we were on a three-month quarantine where we weren’t allowed to take them outside. Nobody outside the family could come in or out, so the older kids were kind of disappointed because they couldn’t have friends over. All family members like my parents or my in-laws had to wash their hands, take off their shoes, just making sure the girls didn’t get sick. If the older kids got sick, we had to put them in the basement and be like, “You can’t come upstairs.” That’s where really you felt like you’re in a bubble and isolation and totally out of touch with society because you’re just stuck in the house. You’re sleep-deprived, you’re only taking care of babies. It was just a really difficult time.

Joe: How about your work situation? Did you have to go back to work right away?

Geoff: During the time that they were in the NICU, I lost my job because I wasn’t able to work as much as they needed me to. At that point, I decided, or we decided, that I was going to be a stay-at-home dad, just because the cost of hiring a nanny was going to be so expensive, and they were so difficult to take care of. We really didn’t trust anybody that could take care of them, so I became a stay-at-home dad and my wife was working part-time.

Joe: About how many months did it take for you to think, “Okay, you know, I think we finally got this,” you had a good routine, you were able to get out of the house, and things were going a little more smoothly?

Geoff: Four months ago, we were finally like, “Okay, this is getting easier.” They’re starting to be a little bit more independent. Now they’re playing with each other. We can start taking them more places. I don’t think people that don’t have twins understand how time-consuming it is just to get them ready and in the car, have their bag packed, to go to a store. It’s just-

Joe: It’s amazing how much time it takes to get out of the house.

Geoff: Yeah, so it’s a lot of like, “Okay, well, you watch them while I go to the store,” just because it’s so difficult to go everywhere with them. Now, we can take them to places, but it’s … You have to worry about four hands grabbing things from the shelves. One will want to walk and one wants to sit in the cart, or one wants to be held. It’s just-

Joe: How old are they now?

Geoff: Two years and four months.

Joe: Oh, yes. You’re right in the middle of it right now. Extremely mobile, extremely curious, into everything.

Geoff: Being at stay-at-home dad and the financial burden of losing your job and the bills piling up from the five failed attempts, I went through postpartum depression, which I didn’t really know was a thing. I knew something was going on with me because I just was not happy, kind of stopped taking care of myself, just because I was just home all the time with babies crying and runny noses and vomiting. It’s like, “Why should I change when it’s just going to happen all over again?” or “Why should I clean the house? Because it’s just going to get messed up again.”

Geoff: I just really didn’t understand why I wasn’t happy because this was … What I was determined to have was these little babies and they’re healthy and I have a great wife and I have great kids. I just didn’t understand why I wasn’t happy. I think it was just the perfect storm of losing my job and being a stay-at-home dad and the isolation. You’re just living hour-to-hour. They were colicky babies.

Geoff: I was watching the show “OutDaughtered” and the dad on that show, Adam Busby, he kind of went through this depression. I was like, “Okay, well, maybe this is normal,” and I started reading about it. I decided to go to the doctor at the encouragement of my wife, and he prescribed some antidepressants and anxiety medicine. It was kind of a life-changing moment of … It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. I was happier. Since then, it’s just been great. I just encourage other dads that are depressed after it, you’re not going to understand why it’s going on, but to get help and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

Joe: We think it may be something that would happen to mom but not to us, and yet it’s a very real thing, so I’m glad you’re able to get the help you need. It’s a good reminder for other dads listening.

Geoff: That was another thing, was the colicky part and the vomiting. We probably went through, I want to say, like six months of both of them just extreme crying from, we would call it “the witching hour,” from about seven o’clock at night to almost midnight, where they would just cry uncontrollably. You think they would wear themselves out because they would be crying so hard, they would vomit. Tears would be running down their face and they would be choking because they’re crying so much. We tried everything. We tried lavender. We tried singing to them. We tried making the house really dark. We tried warming up the rice pads to settle their tummy. Nothing worked until finally they just grew out of it.

Joe: Now that your girls are about a little over two, what’s the typical schedule like?

Geoff: They get up about 6:45 or 7:00 AM. Recently, we just stopped giving them bottles of milk, which we would, at the time, give them a bottle of milk and change them and get them out of their pajamas. But now that they’re no longer on milk, they want cereal, so they start point to the pantry where we keep the cereal. They go grab their iPads and we make cereal and they sit up at the table, eat their cereal, and then they say they want down. They’ll play for a little bit. Sometimes they take turns wanting held, like they’ll just crawl up on the couch or the chair I’m sitting on and we’ll kind of watch TV together. Then they’ll play some more, then it’s lunchtime. Feed them lunch. By that time, they’re ready for their naps. We put them down for sometimes a two or three hour nap. They get up, play some more, eat dinner. Now that the weather’s nice, we try to take them to the playground or go on a walk, trying to kind of wear them out.

Geoff: About 8:00 PM, it’s bedtime. We’ll give them a bath. They brush their teeth. We get them pajamaed. We kind of hold them, cuddle them for 30 minutes, then we put them in bed. Then it’s kind of a big relief. Everybody can kind of relax. Then it starts all over again.

Geoff: We’re getting to the point where they’re crawling into each other’s cribs, so we had to get another monitor to start watching them. It’s kind of fun to watch them throw their pillows and blankets into one crib and they kind of play with each other until they fall asleep for their naps.

Joe: What’s been your ongoing relationship with the surrogate mother now that your twins are older?

Geoff: She’s great. We talk to her on social media. Her and my wife, they text each other every day. She tries to make it up every few months. She’s great about coming to all the kids’ birthdays. She’s just amazing. She writes all the kids a letter every year that they’re not supposed to open until their 18th birthday. We’re very open about it. My wife actually wrote a book about surrogacy and how Griffin was born.

Joe: What’s the name of the book?

Geoff: It’s called “Incredible You.” It’s available on Amazon. One of her friends illustrated it and we got it published. It’s just the journey of being born through a surrogate.

Joe: That’s great. I’ll link up to that in the show notes for the podcast today so people can check that out.

Joe: So, Geoff, as we wrap up today, if folks do want to connect with you, what’s the best way to get in touch?

Geoff: I’m on Facebook. It’s “Geoff Louvar.” Then I’m on Twitter. My handle is @geofflouvar, and on Instagram too. You could also follow my wife, Hilary Louvar. We have a lot of other twin parents that connect to us. It’s just it’s kind of fun to see how you really don’t know how many people have twins until you have them, so every time we’re at the store, somebody has a story, like, “Oh, my daughter has twins,” or “My cousin has twins,” or “I’m a twin.”

Joe: Yeah, we are an elite club of twin parents.

Geoff: Yeah, we are.

Joe: Well, Geoff, thank you so much for sharing your story with us today. We really appreciate it.

Geoff: All right. Thank you so much.

Joe: I hope you enjoyed that..

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I got a comment the other day from a fellow father expecting twins to join his family shortly. He said, “Most of the world does not know how different a twin pregnancy is. People don’t understand when I respond to the question of ‘How’s your wife?’ by saying, ‘She doesn’t get out much.'”

His comment made me laugh because it reminded me of the reality that we faced with our twin pregnancy, particularly in the latter stages, and how a twin pregnancy is significantly different than a singleton pregnancy in many ways.

I came up with a list of things that are different with a twin pregnancy that you’re probably experiencing if you’re expecting twins or that you did experience during your twin pregnancy. When you look at a twin pregnancy vs single pregnancy, there are several things that are different:

Twins Make Mom Large and Uncomfortable

The first thing to keep in mind is that Mom is going to be extremely large and uncomfortable when expecting twins.

Now, this may seem obvious, because there’s going to be two babies inside her, but nothing could have prepared us for the reality of what actually was two twin babies inside poor Mama’s belly.

We had two boys previously. We had been through two pregnancies before and seen how that affected mom’s body.

I didn’t expect that my poor wife would be so large, and unfortunately so miserable, carrying those twins in the later stages of the pregnancy. Extreme fatigue and weariness are a daily reality with a twin pregnancy.

If you look at expecting twins vs singleton pregnancies, by the time Mom reaches 32 weeks of the twin pregnancy, her belly will be larger than a 40-week singleton pregnancy.

For some twin pregnancy vs single pregnancy pictures, check out this twin mom’s video comparing her two pregnancies:

TWINS VS. ONE BABY: Comparing my Pregnancies | WEEK 36 UPDATE - YouTube

With a twin pregnancy, your wife is going to gain at least 50% more weight (35-45 pounds total) than a singleton pregnancy. Of course, consult with your physician on just how much weight she should be gaining. What is a healthy weight for her? Your doctor can help you figure that out.

The reality is that once you get into that third trimester, things are going to get extremely uncomfortable. That’s why I always advise that you get your preparations in place well before the third trimester so that you can focus on taking care of Mom and the unborn babies.

Twin Pregnancy Can Mean Bed Rest

A twin pregnancy often leads to bed rest because of the aforementioned problems of Mom getting so large that it starts to put a lot of strain on her body and the twins. Oftentimes, that leads to conditions where Mom needs to rest.

This may be doctor-ordered, full-time or partial bed rest. My wife, for example, was told by the doctor that she needed to rest for several hours a day. Then she could still go about her business the rest of the day.

Your situation may vary based on the health of the babies and the health of Mom. Bed rest is definitely a possibility with twin pregnancy, particularly as you get to the later stages.

Twins Bring More Doctor Visits

One of the things you may not be expecting with a twin pregnancy is the increased amount of doctor visits and ultrasounds during the twin pregnancy.

This is both a blessing and a curse. Frequent doctor visits are a blessing because you get to see your twins a lot more than other parents with a twin vs singleton pregnancy. You’re going to have a lot of ultrasounds and checkups with the doctor to make sure that everything’s going smoothly because a twin pregnancy is a higher risk pregnancy.

The downside of that is you have a lot more doctor visits and a lot more logistics that you need to work out. If you want to attend doctor visits with your wife, which I recommend, you’re going to need to arrange to get time off from work.

You may need to arrange for childcare for your other children so you can both attend those visits. Ultrasounds are great, and they also can kind of drive you crazy. Every time we found when it was time for an ultrasound and we’d go in, we always had in the back of our head, maybe this time, they’re going to discover something is not right.

During these doctor visits, your doctor may uncover some of the potential health complications that your wife or twin babies may be having. Twin pregnancy is going to be at a higher risk for things like preterm labor, preeclampsia, or even pregnancy-induced hypertension.

Please talk with your doctor during the twin pregnancy, and make sure you’re taking the steps that you need to keep Mom and the babies healthy.

Twins Come Early

Another difference between a twin pregnancy and a singleton pregnancy is that the twin babies tend to arrive very early.

The full term for a singleton pregnancy is 40 weeks. If you carry twins to 40 weeks, bless you. It is not an easy task. Most twins never make it that far. Most twins arrive around 36 weeks. That’s oftentimes considered full term for a twin pregnancy. Our twin girls, for example, arrived in the 36th week of pregnancy.

Every twin pregnancy is different. Twins will come earlier, or twins will come later. One thing that you need to plan for is that you don’t have the full 40 weeks to prepare for your twins’ arrival.

If you go past 35 or 36 weeks, Mom is going to be extremely uncomfortable and is going to need to be resting almost exclusively.

A twin pregnancy is a heavier burden on mom. That means a lot of the things that mom does have to be done by someone else.

Often, it falls to you, Dad, or to other members of the family. If you’ve got other kids in the house during the twin pregnancy, that does complicate things a little bit more as well. Mom is going to find that it’s increasingly more difficult to care for the whole family during the twin pregnancy and will rely more and more upon Dad to pick up that burden.

Twin Pregnancy Prepares You

I view the twin pregnancy as a preview of what’s going to happen once the twins are born. Dad, if you can get used to helping more around the house, with Mom, with the kids, and with the chores, it’s only going to prepare you and get you into good habits for when the twins actually arrive.

You’ll need all hands on deck because there’s going to be full-time needs with the twins. They need to be taken care of, as well as the rest of your family and the house. You’re going to have to be able to juggle those effectively.

Take advantage of the twin pregnancy to get into the spirit of helping and doing more than you have done in the past.

Plus, people will start asking you awkward questions about your twins and this will definitely continue for several years after they are born. Get used to that now!

Maternity Clothing and Gear

My wife discovered that traditional maternity clothing only lastest so long. In the final month or two of the twin pregnancy, clothing failed to fit properly or cover up the ever-expanding bump.

Your partner may also find that a belly support strap like this can relieve her back pain.

Less Travel During Twin Pregnancy

Another big difference between twin pregnancy and single pregnancies are how limited you are on travel. Because twins tend to arrive so early, your doctor may not let Mom travel once she reaches 25 weeks.

The last thing you want to happen is for Mom to go into premature labor when you’re on a plane or far from home.

Consult with your doctor before making any travel plans during your twin pregnancy.

Twins Bring Financial Challenges

One thing that is a mental burden during a twin pregnancy, which also weighs on expectant twin parents, is the financial aspects of twins.

When you find out that you’re expecting a baby, dollar signs start to float through your head, Dad. Once you find out there are twins in the forecast, a lot more dollar signs start to flow through your head.

I found that when we learned we were expecting twins, I was thinking about the costs associated with twins. It kind of blew my mind even more so then when we found out we were expecting each of our singleton pregnancies previously.

There’s something about knowing that there’s two, that makes you freak out financially. In addition to all the health concerns and the extra work during the twin pregnancy, you’ve got that mental burden and mental stress of preparing financially for them.

You don’t have to worry about the longer-term financial needs of your twins during the twin pregnancy. Saving for college can come later. Saving for marriage, for weddings, can come later.

Right now, you need to focus on the immediate needs that your twins will have as soon as they arrive. They need a place to sleep, car seats to get them home, diapers, and clothing.

Yes, a twin pregnancy is significantly different from a singleton pregnancy, in some good ways and in some very challenging ways. So when your friends who have never had twins ask you how things are going, you know it’s OK to be truthful with them. Just don’t expect them to truly understand what you’re talking about because being pregnant with twins vs one is a world of difference.

I talk more about making it through the twin pregnancy in Chapter Two of my book, the Dad’s Guide to Twins: How to Survive the Twin Pregnancy and Prepare for Your Twins.

This question was originally addressed on the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast episode 34: Twin Pregnancy vs. Singleton Pregnancy.

Picture by Diana Beato

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Recently, I was asked by a dad expecting twins, “How early can I know the gender of twins?”

There are really two ways to determine the gender of your twins, one via blood work and the other via ultrasound. Let’s see what each of those mean for your twin gender reveal:

Twin Gender Determination via Blood Testing

If you do any kind of chromosomal testing, this can help determine the gender a few weeks earlier than an ultrasound.

Noninvasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is a test typically done around 10 weeks of the pregnancy to screen for Down Syndrome. As this test looks at DNA, it will see the chromosomes of your babies. However, because you’re having twins, the sample will include DNA from both babies.

Remember from your Biology class that males have XY chromosomes and females have XX.

If your NIPT test indicates the presence of a Y chromosome, you’ll be having at least one boy. You will need to wait for your ultrasound to give the final determination of two boys or boy/girl twins.

If NIPT doesn’t show any Y chromosomes, the odds are good you’ll be having twin girls.

Finding Out Twins’ Gender via Ultrasound

Because a twin pregnancy tends to be a higher-risk pregnancy, your doctor is going to want to keep a close eye on mom and the babies. This means more ultrasounds that could give you a sneak peek at the gender of your twins earlier than a singleton pregnancy. You might even discover the gender as early as 12 to 13 weeks into the pregnancy.

How to find gender in a twin pregnancy is a little tricky as you’ll have two very active and squirming babies rolling around inside Mom. One twin may be blocking the view of the other. Or one of your twins may be shy and not want to show you what he (or she) is.

If the view between your babies’ legs is blocked, it will be impossible to identify gender by visual examination on an ultrasound.

However, a trained ultrasound technician or doctor will be able to determine gender with great confidence by 18 weeks.

Should I find out the gender of my twins?

What if you want to keep your twins’ gender a surprise? Go for it!

You can easily keep the gender of your twins a surprise if you communicate that clearly with your medical staff at each ultrasound appointment.

One of your fellow father of twins, Kyle Mongold, and his wife kept their twins’ gender a secret with great success.

Be sure you also handle your family’s expectations, but ultimately, keeping the gender a surprise is up to you and your partner.

How Soon to Prepare for Twins

Many expectant twin parents wonder, “When can I find out the gender of my twins?” so they can start making preparations for a boy, girl, boy/girl twins.

It’s probably best to wait to make twin preparations until you’re past the first trimester when a lot of the risks of the initial pregnancy have ended.

You can always make non-gender-specific preparations for your twins by purchasing things like high chairs and other general baby gear. For example, you know your twins are going to need cribs regardless of whether they’re boys or girls. They will likewise need booster seats, strollers, diapers, and more items that are not gender-specific. Here’s list of some of my favorite twin gear.

Your medical situation may vary. So I definitely want you to talk to your doctor about when you can find out the gender of your babies. And if you are really curious, then I’d definitely ask early on in your twin pregnancy.

Read more of what to expect during the twin pregnancy in my book, the Dad’s Guide to Twins: How to Survive the Twin Pregnancy and Prepare for Your Twins.

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I asked our fellow parents of twins what are the most common questions that they receive and their answers might sound familiar.

I know that I’ve gotten my fair share of these questions as well. Read about these common questions below or check out this video summary:

Most Common (and Annoying) Questions You'll Get About Your Twins - YouTube

Are They Twins?

The number one question, by far, that parents of twins receive when they’re out and about with their twins is, “Are they twins?”

Well, of course, they’re twins!

Why else would I have them in a double stroller? Why else would they be the same age? Why else would they be dressed identically?

Of course, there’s plenty of other responses that you can have when people ask you, Are they twins?

“Yes” is a perfectly acceptable answer, but people may want more information.

Here are a few of my favorite responses from our fellow parents of twins:

  • No, actually they’re triplets, and I leave the ugly one back in the car.
  • No, we’re just pretending. In fact, these are just child actors. You know, they use twins a lot in Hollywood. They’re just actors, and we’re pretending.
  • No, they’re triplets! Wait. One, two… Hey, where’d the other one go?
  • Nah, I just found this one in the parking lot. He looked pretty friendly, so I said, “Hop on the double stroller. Let’s go!”
  • No. Actually, they are cloned through advanced scientific research, or like those clone troopers back in Star Wars.
  • Well, actually, when we went to the hospital to have our baby, they were having an amazing buy-one-get-one-free offer. We took ’em up on that, and we came home with twins.
  • No, actually. This is my child, and this is his stunt double. You know, because kids like to do dangerous things, so we always have this stunt double, just in case.

So, while the famous, “Are they twins?” question happens more frequently than any others, it’s usually the icebreaker question that complete strangers come up to you and ask you.

The reality is that there are plenty of other questions that people ask you that can sometimes drive you kind of crazy. Here are a few more of my favorite…

Are They Identical?

Are they identical? Well, this is a pretty benign question if you’re pushing around your boy-boy twins or your girl-girl twins, but what happens if you’ve got boy-girl twins? Well, unfortunately, people will still ask you the question, “Are they identical?”

Well, dear stranger, there are a few differences between a boy and a girl…

Are you sure they are twins?

Are you sure they are twins?

Well, let’s ask my wife, who carried them in her belly.

Let’s ask the ultrasound technician.

Let’s ask the doctor who delivered them.

Did you mean to have twins?

Did you mean to have twins? Uh, no. Not exactly.

It’s not really something that you plan.

How do you tell them apart?

How do you tell them apart?

Well, if you’re lucky enough to have boy-girl twins, you know pretty darn well how you tell them apart.

Otherwise, there is always going to be subtle differences between your twins, even if they’re totally identical.

But you can just stare at your beautiful babies in your stroller and say, “Isn’t it obvious?”

Are they natural?

Wow, so they are twins! Are they natural?

  • Ah, no. Actually, this one is made of aluminum and this one is made of plastic.
  • No, actually, this one is an alien.
  • What’s an artificial twin, anyway?
How do you do it?

How do you do it?

How do I do it? Well, there’s really no other way to do it. I have to do it.

They’re my kids, I love them, and we make it happen.

Hands Full?

So, you have your hands full, don’t you?

Thank you, Captain Obvious! I appreciate that observation.

Double Trouble?

So, is it double trouble?

Um, yes, most of the time.

But it’s also double the fun! That’s the joy of having twins.

Who’s Older?

So, who’s older?

Oh, it’s this one.

Oh wait, maybe it’s, maybe it’s that one.

Uh, could be that one. Or maybe it’s not. I’m pretty sure it’s that one. Yeah, it’s this one right here.

Which twin do you like more?

So, which one do you like more?

Which one do I like more?

You do understand that they’re sitting right here and can hear everything we say, right?

Are they both yours?

Are they both yours?

Yeah, I’m pretty sure they’re both mine! (Then start laughing…)

How far apart were they born?

How far apart were they born?

Well, my girls were born two minutes apart.

Would you like to see their birth certificates to prove that?

Did you know you were having twins?

Did you know you were having twins?

Yeah, when my wife took the pregnancy test, it came up with those two little lines, and we knew then that it was going to be twins.

No, not really. That just means you’re pregnant!

When we went to the doctor, we had an ultrasound, and that’s when they dropped the bomb on us. Boom! You’re going to have twins.

Do twins run in your family?

Do twins run in your family?

No. Well, actually, yes, they do now. They run all over the place!

Which twin is the bad twin?

So, which twin is the good twin and which twin is the bad twin?

Wait, you do remember that they’re still sitting here, right?

Done having kids?

So, twins! That’s great! So you’re probably done having kids, right?

[blank stare…]

What did you do to have twins?

So, what did you do to have twins?

Really? Your mom never explained that to you?

Well, let me tell you about the birds and the bees.

What’s Your Favorite?

What is your favorite question that people ask you about your twins when you’re out in public?

Go ahead and leave a comment and share with us. Plus, share some of those favorite responses that you have when strangers come up and approach you and ask rather probing questions about your twins.

If you want to make it perfectly clear to everyone at the store, that you are a parent of twins, you might as well just wear a shirt that says you’ve got twins. You should get a shirt like this “Twin Parenting” shirt, over at TwinTShirtCompany.com.

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